Question Every Dance Festival You Attend

These are some questions you should be ask yourself before attending any dance festival:

  1. What’s the lineup like? Are they bringing local or international instructors?

  2. Is it the event in one location or multiple locations? How is transit/parking?

  3. Who’s DJing and how much experience do they have?

  4. What is the sound system like? Do they have monitor speakers?

  5. Is there an ambiance/atmosphere/theme in the main room? (lighting/decor/vibe)

  6. What’s the floor like?

  7. What’s the hotel/venue like?

  8. Who’s attending the festival? Is it all local dancers or more national/international?

  9. How much does the full pass cost? Is it worth it for the artists, DJs, and overall experience?

  10. Are there shows? How many shows are there each night? Do they have shows every night? Do the shows run late cutting into social dancing?

  11. What’s the overall vibe/energy of the festival like? Are people stuck in team clicks or are there solo dancers trying to make new friends?

  12. What’s the promoter’s reputation like?

  13. What kind of online presence do they have? Do they communicate via FB/IG with dancers in regards to concerns and last minute updates or changes?

  14. Are there other activities that we could do outside of the dance event?

  15. Is the festival the same every year? (same talent, same dancers) Are they trying to do something different each year to improve the dancer’s experience?

  16. How much time do you really have social dancing?

  17. Why are you attending the event? Is it for the workshops, shows, social dancing, or jack & jill?

  18. Is the festival primarily a showcase/performance, competitive (jack & jill), workshop, or social dancing (marathon), or vacation type festival?

  19. Does the festival offer multiple rooms with different dance genres or focus on one specific style of dance?

These are just a few questions, there are MANY more you could ask yourself.

Let’s improve the overall dance scene by raising the bar. With so many festivals in today’s world, the quality has gone down, and many festivals feel the same.

Being aware of the different types of festivals, congresses, weekenders, and events will help you become a better consumer in the dance world.

Everyone attends events for different reasons. There will always be unhappy or dissatisfied attendees. However, being aware and investing in events that improve overall scenes is something that we should all strive for. Quality over quantity is the name of the game. Hope everyone is having an awesome summer!

Interview: DJ X-tra

Hailing from the beautiful country of Luxembourg, Patrizio Monteiro, aka DJ X-tra is a seasoned DJ both locally and internationally.  He is one of the organizers of Kizomba Luxembourg, one of the biggest Kizomba festivals in Europe.  DJ X-tra is known for his versatility; he’s always keeping it fresh and will leave you craving for more on the dance floor.  He DJs at the biggest clubs in Luxembourg and can spin everything from hip-hop to ghetto zouk. We caught up with DJ X-tra in Los Angeles before his set at Kizomba After Hours.

Tell me about your background.

I was born in Italy while my mom was studying in college. My whole family is from Cape Verde. Later, I moved to Luxembourg and that’s where I’m currently living.

Tell me when you started DJ’ing.

I started DJ’ing almost ten years ago. I’ve been DJ’ing hip-hop and top 40 music since school. It’s always been a part of me and will continue to be, even before Kizomba and my aunt’s influence.

When did you get into Kizomba?

Kizomba came into my life with my aunt, who is a big fan of Kizomba. Growing up, I was forced to learn to dance passada and she was always playing Kizomba, Ghetto Zouk, Kompa, & Semba - which I eventually grew to love.

Describe your sound.

It’s “extra”(laughs), every set is different and I always try to do something new focusing on the crowd in front of me. The crowd is my inspiration and is what determines how the night will turn out.

What genre do you like to play most?

All music. I play everything I like and make myself dance and groove to the beat which ultimately transmits to the dance floor.

What’s your favorite song at the moment?

There’s so many….but right now I would say Atrevido by Djodje.

What’s a scary moment you had while DJing?

One time there was a concert for Djodje in Luxembourg and the music stopped mid-set. It wasn’t my fault, thankfully, but the sound turned off and I had to scramble to fix it. Thankfully, I had a mixtape of DJ Chu, which helped me out.

What was one of the most memorable moments?

It was when I was playing for Booba, a French rapper. It was a special moment for me because it was my first time DJing a big concert.

What’s your favorite movie?

The Intouchables.

When did you decide you wanted to become a DJ?

When I was really young… around 14. I used to see my cousin play in Holland, Danny Delgado - shout out to him. Yeah, saw him DJing all the times with big names like Afrojack and Lil Bow Wow. I think he pushed me to do what I’m doing today.

Who inspires you?

DJ Khaled. I love his positivity, it drives me forward.

What’s something that you live by?

Happiness and positivity. I always try to be myself and bring joy to people.

What are your plans for the rest of the year and going into 2020?

I’m going to focus more on marketing and producing.

Keep up with DJ X-tra by following him on his Facebook or Instagram.

My Nairobi Experience

Arriving in Nairobi was much like arriving in Los Angeles- hot and dry with stop and go traffic. It took a little over an hour to arrive to the hotel in Westlands neighborhood of Nairobi.

Everyone I met was really nice and friendly. I met people from South Africa, Uganda, Nairobi, Germany, and the US. The event I was there to film was the 2019 Nairobi Kizomba Sensacao Festival.

Friday night was bumping as the DJs kept the vibe going with solid track selections and transitions. The only other time I heard such great Kizomba music was at the Miami Beach Kizomba Festival. The music was so good that I couldn’t help but shazam all weekend. Below is a compilation of songs I came across over the weekend:

Playlist 1 - NKS.jpg

Saturday and Sunday were full days of workshops. On Sunday afternoon, I was able to visit a local animal sanctuary and get some b-roll shots of crocs and monkeys. The weekend was concluded with a really fun pool party. It was great to unwind and dance Kizomba, Bachata, and Salsa at the pool.

Below is the vertical recap of the festival along with demos of the headliners. The last video at the bottom is a fun travel video I created with an old Sony Handycam Camcorder CCD-TRV58 that records analog.

What you should know about an amateur vs experienced videographer.

Should festivals have hobbyist/amateur videographers? Ideally, no. They shouldn’t.

Here are some reasons why:

1.  They make people feel uncomfortable - Some dancers don’t want to be filmed 24/7. If you’re an artist, it’s expected.  However, a lot people are there just to social dance and don’t want to be on camera(I’m one of those people).  Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’re having an amazing dance, only to open your eyes and have a videographer in your face.   You turn away and dance towards the opposite direction signaling you don’t want to be filmed. The videographer proceeds to follow you and continues filming.   Your amazing moment is over because the videographer didn’t get the hint.

This is a prime example of what I see all the time.  Again, it’s okay if it’s packed at 1 AM and you’re near the stage dancing with an artist.  However, a lot of amateurs will go to the back of the room and film people who don’t want to be filmed.  This makes people feel uncomfortable and lessens their experience. If you’re a social dancer and would like to be filmed, let the videographer know so they can look for you on the dance floor.

An experienced videographer knows when and how to film certain people.  Filming is an art. You don’t want to show people that you are there with a camera (ie. big LED lights on cameras filming 24/7), you want to blend in and keep your distance.  You want people to watch the video and think - “How the heck did they get that shot?” A 70-200 zoom lens allows us to film people from a distance.

2. They record too much - Amateurs will record everything.  Every social, every couple, every demo- everything.  The problem with this is that you want to maintain a professional image online and not show dead space.  Dead space shows the room isn’t that full and that there aren’t that many people present. You want to show that your event is packed. There is no reason to film at the beginning/end of the evening when there aren’t as many people.

An experienced videographer will shoot to edit.  They have an idea of the shot they need and are imagining how they are going to edit the video.  They’ll shoot during the peak hours of your festival to show the maximum amount of people are present(and also use the right lens).  What’s better? Having 800 gigs of unusable footage, or 200 gigs of amazing footage?

3.  They upload to their own business page - Most hobbyists will upload to their own FB/IG page in hopes of getting as may likes and shares possible.  This benefits them, and not the festival. All video content should be uploaded directly to the client’s page using their logo and branding.  

4.  They claim they have a following - If a person has 3 million followers on instagram and they film your festival, how many of the 3 million followers will actually attend your festival?  The sad reality is: not many. Yes, it’s great for exposure and visibility. However, most of the people consuming dance content and following these types of IG accounts (featured accounts) aren’t really dancers.  They just enjoy seeing boobs, butts, and/or super sexy dancing/grinding.

A person with a following does not mean they are good with a camera.  There are people that are influencers and run featured accounts that do not film.  Again, these people are good for exposure and visibility, but not good for online branding, professional video, and creating value for the dancers that paid to attend your festival.

Viral videos are great for exposure but won’t bring more people to your festival.   We wrote a post about this a few months ago: Pros and Cons of Viral Dance Videos


5.  They don’t do recaps - Most amateurs just film demos(which is really easy and abundant these days).  A recap is extremely difficult to put together in a short amount of time. It requires many lenses, different angles, different locations, different types of movements, and many hours of editing.  

Recaps don’t typically get a lot of views and don’t go viral.  They are created to provide value to everyone who attended your event.  They allow people to reflect on your event and will forever have something to look back on.  It’s a compilation of the entire weekend condensed into one or two minutes.

6.  They decrease the overall value of your festival -  Do you ever see videos online that make you cringe?  Have you seen promoters use poor spelling/grammar when marketing their festival?  Having no online content of your festival is better than having bad content. In today’s online world, social media presence is everything.  It’s good to take a step back and look at your overall image online for your brand/event/festival.

Sometimes it’s nice not having a photographer/videographer present. There is no hype, flashes, or someone following you around snapping 10 photos trying to get that right angle. Everyone is dancing together as one, without any interruptions or distractions.

If latin-dance festivals attracted 5,000+ people, this article would not have been written. However, most latin-dance festivals attract 150-800 people which makes it a unique and sometimes difficult environment to engage and film dancers.

This post was written to strengthen the dance community and create the best possible environment for dancers. Festival organizers and promoters should be aware of the people they bring on to capture their event. Knowledge, experience, awareness, and common sense applies to anyone filming or photographing Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, and Brazilian Zouk festivals.

If you see SBKZ Media present at your festival, please introduce yourself and say hi. When filming, we’re always searching for those smiles :)